Extreme reduction of the capillary lumen in segments of the venular legs of human cutaneous capillaries


While structure and function of precapillary sphincter cells were assured in skin capillaries it is unclear whether segmental reduction of capillary lumina can occur in human capillaries. It has been shown that endothelial cells are able to exert dynamical reactions. Since the first description of the vascular endothelium a great variety of findings were described concerning the active role of capillary endothelial cells in regulation of the capillary lumen applying intravital microscopy. The intravital microscopy was performed in the framework of an observational study to document the long-term stability of capillaries in healthy subjects over many years. In the second year one of the participants showed remarkable changes in capillaries compared to recent recordings. Control recordings were performed 1, 3, 4, 5 and 20 h after the initial examination — until a complete normalization of the capillaries occurred. This case report is documenting for the first time clearly that extreme luminal narrowing of long segments of cutaneous capillaries can also appear in humans, in this case restricted exclusively to the venular leg of the capillaries. Different from the reductions of the capillary lumen induced by electrical irritation in frogs which lasted only for seconds, the capillary lumen narrowing in this case lasted considerably longer, almost over a whole day. It is important to note that the demonstrated findings did not occur in all capillaries and it remains unclear whether such findings are restricted to skin capillaries or might occur also in other regions of the body or even systemically. It could be demonstrated clearly, however, that segmental narrowing of capillary lumina can occur in humans possibly leading to a temporary stillstand of perfusion.
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